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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » The machine (SF)

   
Author Topic: The machine (SF)
Sakari
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SF, 4000 words atm

I'm not sure if I should paste the 13 lines from the prologue, or from the first chapter. Probably the prologue.. Giving you both

--

Prologue:

Young officers with wide eyes and nervous shuffles edged across the tavern room, over the stillness of corpses. Unsullied snow blew in from the broken windows, mixing with the blood on the floor. Above, someone sobbed. The barkeep lolled against the counter, one of the broken fan's splintered blades struck through his abdomen, and into the lacquered wood behind, thus keeping him standing and swaying in a gruesome parody of the drunks normally infesting the establishment.
The freezing wind kept the metallic back door of the bar open, and with infuriating randomness the door clanged and banged against a pair of iron ladders; "clang clang", they said, "CLANG bang clang BANG CLANG CLANG." Beneath and a bit after every sound, a softer, almost organic, sound could be heard.

--

1st Chapter

I opened my eyes to a filthy red mattress and a softly whistled tune. They were sticky, my eyes, and my hands, and as I exerted my neck muscles to raise my head a bit, pain exploded through my skull, flashing down my body to my knuckles and groin. I think I pissed my pants, and it felt like hot razor-blades before darkness consumed me.
The tune had changed when I next realized being awake. Motionless I considered it, finding it quite off.
I woke up to a horrendous racket. The sudden clanging and banging was such that a blinding headache struck without warning, starting from the frontal lobe and advancing through my nervous system all over my body. I had had these attacks for a long time now, but this was the worst, perhaps.

--

Sakari


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Is this a short story, Sakari, or a novel?

If it has a prologue and chapters, it should be in the Fragments and Feedback for Books area.

I can move it there if you would like me to.


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Sakari
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Kathleen, you have a point. I have lots of extra-stuff for this particular world, including some encyclopaedia-pages (like those bits before chapters in Dune or Alastair Reynold's works), so, yeah. I'm dumb.

I'd appreciate it if you could move this to the books-area!

Thank you!


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Done!
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Kokor Hekkus
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I like your prologue; the initial hook is interesting- what exactly has happened here? Something truly violent, to destroy a ceiling fan and drive its jagged shards entirely through a man's body and into the counter! Yikes. I think the clanging and banging could be cut a little short though:
quote:
with infuriating randomness the door clanged and banged against a pair of iron ladders; "clang clang", they said, "CLANG bang clang BANG CLANG CLANG."

...maybe even leave out the onomatopoeias entirely- you've already said the doors are banging randomly against the iron ladders, I can certainly imagine what it sounds like.

First chapter's good too, what's going on with your first-person protagonist? I think there's a few clumsy sentences, to my ear at least:

quote:
The tune had changed when I next realized being awake.

Perhaps, 'The tune had changed when I next awoke.'?
quote:
starting from the frontal lobe and advancing through my nervous system all over my body.

Perhaps, 'starting from the frontal lobe and advancing thorugh my whole nervous system'... or something similar?

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Sakari
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Thanks Kokor Hekkus! (Vance rocks! Although I remember comparing vance's story with dumas' story, since I happened to read those two quite closely, and as "weird" as it is, I think I slightly preferred dumas'

You make valid points!

- Clanging and banging; you are correct. I actually, to my shame, shortened that CLANG bang-segment a bit already.. I'll play with getting rid of it altogether. However, what I was going for was some kind of a feeling of cacophony, even surreal. I wanted to somehow bring out the sensations the policemen had - corpses, sobbing, broken places, blood and snow, and the intermittent clanging. I know I've failed, have to see if I can replace that clanging with something else.

- "The tune had changed.."; I actually had the exact line you are proposing at first! I changed it a minute before posting this bit here. Why? I wanted to give the reader a notion that the MC is not quite sure when he is awake, and when not. Thus, "I next realized being awake" -> he did not notice waking up; just realized that "okay, I'm back". Have to think about this one too..

- Last bit about pain, yeah, you are correct. Clumsy, clumsy.

Thanks a ton man! (I assume you are a male based on your user name - apologies if I got that wrong)

Sakari


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Crane
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I like the first lines from the prolog. Very eerie feeling that you've invoked. I don't like the word "Unsullied" at the start of the sentence, but only because it's be nounified by GRRM. If it was my sentence, I'd put that adjective inside it somewhere so it doesn't have to get a capital letter.

I also don't like the word 'metallic.' To me that word is used to describe something that isn't metal, but has a metal quality, like plastic mardi gras beads or something. Otherwise, why not just say 'metal door.'

I'm uncomfortable with the chapter one paragraph because it describes intense pain in the first person, and it leads me to think that the POV character is going to continue to experience a lot of pain for the rest of the book. At this point all we've got for the POV character is pain, and I don't have any reason to stick with it. The pain itself is not attractive, and I don't want to read more from behind this person's eyeballs. If you give me something I'd like to hold on to, or tell it from an outside perspective, you might have a better chance with a reader like me.


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mythique890
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I like it. The sentence "When I next realized being awake" confused me a little, too. It's the being. While it makes grammatical sense, it's not common usage. I think it would be clearer if it read, "When I next realized I was awake," which is what someone would actually say if they were speaking.

[This message has been edited by mythique890 (edited August 19, 2011).]


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